For his efforts on Soul Achiever in the final race, Derek Leung Ka-chun had the dubious distinction of being the first jockey punished under the freshly drafted schedule of careless riding penalties before the ink on them was even dry.
Leung caused interference near the 1,200m and was handed a two-day suspension and a fine of HK$17,500, figuratively smashing a champagne bottle against the bow for the new sanctions.
Where previously a jockey’s first careless riding penalty for any season might have been three days on the sidelines, that has now become two days and a monetary penalty, in an effort to address the jockey shortages which have occurred recently due to three-day bans.
The schedule now reads: first, second and third offences to carry two days’ suspension and a fine calculated at half a day’s average riding fees in lieu of a third day.
As offences mount up, the two days will remain the same but the monetary penalty increases to a one and a half day fine for the fourth and fifth offences.
For a sixth or seventh offence, the penalty becomes three days and a two days’ worth of fines, and then eight or more offences will carry a three-meeting ban and a three-day fine.
On top of that, club officials said there will be adjustments to the deferral of bans, with the availability of riders for upcoming meetings becoming a factor in that negotiation.
It only gets more complicated once stewards factor in discounts for ‘good behaviour’ which were introduced a season or two back and will still apply for riders with good recent records.
Jockeys were still having the new guidelines explained to them as they left the course last night, but Leung understood all too well.